LIFELINE Central West CEO Alex Ferguson sees more of the dark side of life than most.
Mr Ferguson has spent the past decade devoting his life to Lifeline, doing what he can to help prevent suicides in our region.
As a result, he knows more than most about what it can take to trigger dangerous thoughts within an individual.
He knows better than most the pressures that can build up within a person that may ultimately lead to a tragic decision.
And he understands more clearly than most that anyone can fall victim to a moment of despair.
And so when he says he is worried about the possible consequences of the current debate over same-sex marriage, then we should all pay attention.
The federal government has created a situation where the private lives of millions of Australians are suddenly fodder for public comment.
The government was warned that a plebiscite on same-sex marriage could have terrible impacts on young gay people, in particular, but but chose to forge ahead with their non-binding survey that puts political expediency over community welfare.
Having brought on the unnecessary debate, then, it is now the government's responsibility to ensure the debate is conducted with respect on all sides.
The government should also be responsible for ensuring that the debate is conducted within the right parameters – that is, the question of same sex marriage. The indications so far are not so promising.
So many factors being aired by the supporters of a no vote are simply red herrings.
This is not on a debate about sex education in schools. This is not a debate about religious freedom. This is not a debate about sexuality. This is not a debate about whether a young boy should be allowed to wear a dress to school
This is simply a debate about whether two people of the same sex should be allowed to marry. Yes or no.
By attempting to muddy the waters, the no vote supporters are engaging in a disrespectful and potentially damaging campaign.
This is not just the media or same-sex marriage supporters issuing that warning, it is the head of our region's key suicide prevention organisation.
He must be heard and his warning must be heeded.